Tony Vinciquerra told his staffers today that he’ll be departing the company as of February 11. In my book, that’s a big loss for Fox. Vinciquerra has always been one of the good ones – a fierce but reasonable deal-maker, an imminently reasonable person and, especially in recent years, a devoted family man.
The LA Times notes that with the return of Chase Carey atop News Corp.’s TV operations, Vinciquerra’s skill-set was somewhat redundant. However, Vinciquerra just led his team to complete what had to be very tough negotiations over retransmission consent fees, and had already made it known amongst the powers-that-be that he wanted to leave before his latest two-year contract was up, the Times also reports.
Deadline.com notes that Vinciquerra was brought to Fox by the charismatic Peter Chernin, who left Fox in 2009.
In his exit memo to employees, Vinciquerra says “I’ve decided now is the time for me to do something different — probably more entrepreneurial in nature — and I am excited to begin down that path. This is something I’ve thought about for some time and, with our strong competitive position and seasoned team of leaders in place, it is the right time to take the plunge.”
What that new path is remains to be seen, but here are a few ideas.
Deadline notes that leadership at the new NBC Universal-Comcast, which is expect to pass muster in Washington by the end of this month, had pursued Vinciquerra at one point. NBC Universal’s leadership seems mostly tied up at this point, but the timing could indicate that Vinciquerra is preparing to go to work for Comcast COO Steve Burke. Vinciquerra’s old boss, Chernin, was a consultant on that deal, suggesting that Vinciquerra would have inside recommendations if that was a direction in which he wanted to go.
Vinciquerra knows a thing or two about running TV stations, and NBC’s stations could certainly use a steadying hand at the top. NBC’s stations are probably the company’s most underutilized asset, and many sources have mentioned to me that Burke would like to – needs to, really — improve their performance.
Meanwhile, Chernin has started his own media company, and he seems to have big intentions for it. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Vinciquerra rejoin his old boss there.
And if all else fails (which it won’t), Vinciquerra’s own wife, Toni Erickson Knight, runs her own successful global, multi-media advertising firm. Maybe she could use a little help from a qualified partner.